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Iraqi Governance and the Challenge of Iranian Interference

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The Institute of World Politics

1521 16th Street Northwest

Washington, DC 20036

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About the Lecture: This discussion will examine the influential role played by Iran within Iraq and the challenge of building a functioning Iraqi state in the context of Iranian penetration of Iraqi politics, economics, security, and religion. In security, the rise of the Islamic State provided an opportunity for Iran to assist Iraq by standing up Shi'a militias, which are now being used to further Iran's security presence in key areas of Iraq and are helping Iran to realize its strategic vision of building a "Shi'a arc" from Tehran to the Mediterranean. This has complicated Baghdad's ability to grasp the security situation within Iraq. Iran, also, has benefited from a one-sided economic and trade relationship with Iraq. At the same time that its influence has been rising within its neighbor, Iran has been becoming increasingly unpopular among the Iraqi people for its interference in Iraq, and Iraqi nationalists such as Muqtada al-Sadr are pushing back against that influence. This talk will examine all of these aspects of Iranian interference with a particular focus on how to build healthy Iraqi governance functions in the midst of these major challenges.

About the Speaker: Mike Pregent is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute. He is a senior Middle East analyst, a former adjunct lecturer for the College of International Security Affairs, and a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. Pregent is a former intelligence officer with over 28 years of experience working in security, terrorism, counter-insurgency, and policy issues in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. He is an expert in Middle Eastern and North African political and security issues, counter-terrorism analysis, stakeholder communications, and strategic planning. He spent considerable time working malign Iranian influence in Iraq as an advisor to Iraq’s Security and Intelligence apparatus. Pregent served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and he served as a liaison officer in Egypt during the 2000 Intifada, as a counter-insurgency intelligence officer at CENTCOM in 2001, and as a company commander in Afghanistan in 2002. Additionally, Pregent served as an embedded advisor with the Peshmerga in Mosul from 2005-2006. Also, as a civilian SME working for DIA, Pregent served as a political and military advisor to USF-I focusing on reconciliation, the insurgency, and Iranian influence in Iraq from 2007-2011. He was a violent extremism and foreign fighter analyst at CENTCOM from 2011-2013.

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The Institute of World Politics

1521 16th Street Northwest

Washington, DC 20036

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